Polity & Governance
- GARV-II app launched to ensure power access to all
- Meeting of Governing Body and General Body of Dr. Ambedkar Foundation held
- Digital India Awards 2016 – Healthy Ministry wins gold in the Web Ratna Category
- Can courts make life terms more rigorous, asks SC
Environment & Ecology
- NCPRB directs Delhi, adjoining states to submit plans to control air pollution
Bilateral & International Relations
- India, Kyrgyztan ink six pacts, finalise investment treaty
Science & Technology
- Scientists discover jet stream in Earth’s core through satellite X-ray scanning
- World’s first Chikungunya vaccine developed
Key Facts for Prelims
- NCPCR gets SKOCH Awards for POCSO e-Box
- Birth of an ice cloud
- Indian Enterprise Development Services
Polity & Governance
GARV-II app launched to ensure power access to all
The Union Power Ministry has launched a new mobile application GARV-II to provide real time data of all six lakh villages of the country.
- The purpose of the mobile application is to ensure transparency in implementation of rural electrification programme.
- GARV-II mobile app has incorporated village-wise; habitation-wise base line data on household electrification for all states.
- It also has mapped village-wise works sanctioned under Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) to monitor progress of works in each village.
- It also incorporates the status of release of funds to the states for electrification projects sanctioned under DDUGJY.
- GARV-II allows peoples participation for rural electrification work. It opens rural electrification work to public scrutiny and input about rural electrification programme
- It also has a citizen engagement window ‘SAMVAD’ to enhance participation. It automatically forwards feedback and suggestions of people to the concerned authorities through SMS & Email.
- It aims to ensure electricity access to all households as government has already electrified over 11,000 villages out of 18,452 un-electrified villages.
How it is unique from its earlier version?
The earlier version of GARV mobile application was only providing data about rural electrification regarding 18,452 un-electrified villages. The GARV-II will provide real time data of all six lakh villages of the country in real time.[Ref: PIB]
Meeting of Governing Body and General Body of Dr. Ambedkar Foundation held
The meeting of the Governing Body and General Body of the Dr. Ambedkar Foundation (DAF) was recently held under the Chairmanship of the Chairman DAF & Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot.
- A compendium on various activities organized by the Dr. Ambedkar Foundation during the Nationwide Celebration of 125th Birth Anniversary of Dr. B R Ambedkar was released during the meeting.
About the foundation:
- Ambedkar Foundation was established by the Government of India under the aegis of the Ministry of Welfare (now Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment) on March 24, 1992 as a registered society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.
- The Foundation has been entrusted with the responsibility of managing administering and carrying on the important and long-term schemes and programmes identified during the Centenary Celebrations of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.
- Apart from other aims and objects relating to research, development and educational programmes, it had to administer the following three special schemes which emanated from the Centenary Celebrations i.e. Scheme of Dr. Ambedkar National Award; Setting up of Dr. Ambedkar Chairs in Universities; Setting up of Dr. Ambedkar International Centre and Setting up of Dr. Ambedkar National Memorial.
Digital India Awards 2016 – Healthy Ministry wins gold in the Web Ratna Category
Ministry of Electronics & IT has presented Digital India Awards 2016 to promote more innovative e-governance initiatives by the government entities.
- National Informatics Centre (NIC), under the ambit of India Portal (http://india.gov.in) organized the first edition of Digital India Awards.
- The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has won gold in the Web Ratna category.
- The website of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare conforms to the UUU trilogy.
- It is totally bilingual as per the directions of Parliamentary Committee of official languages and is accessible to all. Special features have also been incorporated in the website for visually challenged users.
- The website complies with the mandatory requirements of Guidelines for Indian Government Websites (GIGW).
- All relevant web policies have been implemented with due approvals. Content has been grouped systematically under drop down menus that result in easy navigation.
- The ministry has been awarded for comprehensive web presence in Web ratna awards in 2014 and appreciated by SUGAM Web e-Newsletter as usable, user-centric and universally accessible.
About the Digital India Awards:
- Digital India awards, earlier known as the Web Ratna Awards, were instituted under the Ambit of National Portal of India.
- The award acknowledges exemplary initiatives of various government entities in the realm of e-governance.
- Web Ratna award felicitates a Ministry or Department of the Government of India which has a comprehensive web presence and display the level of accountability in terms of quantity, quality, spectrum of coverage, and innovation ascertaining user satisfaction.
- Level of convenience provided to the citizen for availing the services, usability and accessibility are also assessed.
- Three awards Platinum, Gold and Silver were presented in each category to the winners shortlisted from the nominations received under each category.
- The categories included
- Exemplary Online Service,
- Open Data Champion,
- Most Innovative Citizen Engagement,
- Outstanding Digital Initiative by Local body,
- Best Mobile App,
- Web Ratna Ministry/ Department,
- Web Ratna State/ UT,
- Web Ratna-District.
Can courts make life terms more rigorous, asks SC
The Supreme Court has agreed to examine the question whether courts are statutorily empowered to make life imprisonments tougher for the convicts by adding ‘rigorous’ (harsh) to life sentence as the law does not provide for this.
- The court would consider whether the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) or any other penal law empowered the courts to add the term ‘rigorous’.
The court has taken up the issue based on a submission which said neither the penal provision dealing with the offence of murder, nor the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) provided that the term ‘rigorous’ can be added by courts while awarding life sentences.[Ref: The Hindu]
Environment & Ecology
NCPRB directs Delhi, adjoining states to submit plans to control air pollution
The dwindling forest cover in Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan has provoked the National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB) to direct the States to increase forest cover to at least 20%.
- The NCRPB held a meeting to review the actions being taken by its four member States, along with Punjab, to curb rising air pollution, and asked them to submit their action plan.
Tree cover in States:
- According to a report on Tree Cover (from the India State of Forest Report, 2015) by the Forest Survey of India, tree cover in the national Capital stands at just 7.49%, which is still considerably higher than most cities.
- Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan were estimated to have tree cover of 3.07%, 2.92% and 2.42%, respectively.
About National Capital Region (NCR):
- The National Capital Region (NCR) in India was constituted under the NCRPB Act, 1985 with the key rationale to promote balanced and harmonized development of the Region, and to avoid any haphazard development.
- National Capital Region (NCR) is a unique example of inter-state regional planning and development, covering the entire National Capital Territory of Delhi, thirteen districts of State of Haryana, seven districts of State of Uttar Pradesh and two districts of State of Rajasthan, with the Nation Capital as its core.
- The NCR Planning Board is providing financial assistance to State Govts / implementing agencies, out of a revolving fund viz. NCRPB Fund.
Bilateral & International Relations
India, Kyrgyztan ink six pacts, finalise investment treaty
India and Kyrgyzstan have signed six Memoranda of Understanding (MoU)/ Agreements including in the fields of tourism, agriculture and food industry etc.
- These agreements were signed after delegation level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting President of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Sharshenovich Atambayev in New Delhi.
Signed Agreements are:
- MoU on cooperation in the field of Tourism
- MoU in the field of cooperation in youth exchange.
- MoU on cooperation in the field of Youth development
- MoU on exchange of information on training programmes of diplomats.
- Agreement on cooperation in the field of Agriculture and Food Industry.
- MoU on cooperation in the field of Broadcasting and exchange of audiovisual programmes.
- Both the nations also reviewed cooperative engagement in the field of defence and sought to expand joint military exercises including the ‘Khanjar’ series of military exercises which has become an annual event.
- The annual joint military exercises named “Khanjar-IV” will be held in February-March.
- The “Khanjar-II” exercises were held in March 2015 in Kyrgyzstan and “Khanjar-III” in March-April 2016 in Gwalior.
Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT):
- Both countries also initiated talks to conclude a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) in order to augment investments flowing between the two countries as it will protect the interest of investors.
Science & Technology
Scientists discover jet stream in Earth’s core through satellite X-ray scanning
Scientists believe they have identified a groundbreaking new feature deep in the Earth’s molten core.
- They for the first time have discovered the so-called molten jet stream within the Earth’s molten iron core.
About the discovery:
- A new study details evidence of a “jet stream” of liquid iron flowing westwards under Alaska and Siberia, 3,000 km below the Earth’s surface.
- The discovery came from measurements made by Europe’s Swarm satellites, which map the Earth’s magnetic field to better understand its workings.
- It has been discovered by researchers with the aid of latest data which helps to create an x-ray view of the planet.
- According to scientists, the stream is moving at about 50km per year.
- Compared to other geological movements, it’s three times faster than most other outer core elements, and hundreds of thousands of times faster than the tectonic plates at the Earth’s crust.
Why is the jet stream there?
- The study found the position of the jet stream aligns with a boundary between two different regions in the Earth’s core.
- Researchers believe the jet is likely to be caused by liquid in the core moving towards this boundary from both sides, which is squeezed out sideways.
The core of the earth is located very deep, almost 3000 kilometers below making it impossible to study except by a few other options like studying the varying magnetic field in the planet’s core.
Earlier studies had revealed that the changes in the magnetic field indicated that the iron in the outer core was moving at a faster rate in the northern hemisphere, majorly under Alaska and Siberia. However, the data obtained from the trio of Swarm satellites revealed that the changes in magnetic field are caused by a jet stream of molten iron.[Ref: Indian Express]
World’s first Chikungunya vaccine developed
US Researchers have developed the first vaccine of its kind for Chikungunya fever, made from an insect-specific virus that does not have any effect on people, making it safe and effective.
Significance of the newly developed vaccine:
- The vaccine produces a strong immune defence and completely protects mice and non-human primates from disease when exposed to the Chikungunya virus.
- This vaccine offers efficient, safe and affordable protection against chikungunya and builds the foundation for using viruses that only infect insects to develop vaccines against other insect-borne diseases.
- The researchers used the Eilat virus as a vaccine platform since it only infects insects and has no impact on people.
- They used an Eilat virus clone to design a hybrid virus-based vaccine containing chikungunya structural proteins.
- The Eilat/Chikungunya vaccine was found to be structurally identical to natural chikungunya virus. The difference is that although the hybrid virus replicates very well in mosquito cells, it cannot replicate in mammals.
- The antibodies provided complete protection against chikungunya in two different mouse models. In non-human primates, the vaccine elicited rapid and robust immunity.
- Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne virus that causes a disease characterised by fever and severe joint pain, often in hands and feet.
- Symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling or rash.
- Some patients will feel better within a week but many develop longer-term joint pain that can last up to years. Death is rare but can occur.
Key Facts for Prelims
NCPCR gets SKOCH Awards for POCSO e-Box
- The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) of Ministry of Women and Child Development has been conferred the Skoch Silver and Skoch Order-of Merit award.
- The two awards were received by NCPCR for applying technology to develop an electronic drop box, POCSO e-Box for registering complaints on Child Sexual Abuse.
- The competition saw more than 3000 participants and NCPCR’s project, POCSO e-box was considered among the top 30 entries.
What is POCSO e-box?
Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO), e-Box, is an online complaint management system for easy and direct reporting of sexual offences against children and timely action against the offenders under the POCSO Act, 2012.
- It is an initiative of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), for direct online reporting of Child Sexual Abuse.
Key features of the POCSO e-box:
- E-Box is very simple to operate and will help to maintain the confidentiality of the complaint.
- It is incorporated on the home page of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) website- www.ncpcr.gov.in.
How to register a complaint?
- To register complain, a complainant will have to push a button named POSCO e-Box, which will navigate him/her to a page where he/she will have to select at least one picture option (describing the category of harassment).
- Later, he/she will also have to fill a form with details such as mobile number, e-mail and description of the harassment followed by the ‘submit’ button, after which a unique auto-generated complaint number will be flashed.
Birth of an ice cloud
- Scientists witnessed an ice cloud through their experiment in the laboratory. They developed Ice cloud crystals and captured the entire process through microscope.
- The process, called ice nucleation, occurs when a particle attracts water vapour and forms ice crystals, which become the core of the wispy cirrus clouds that often hang in the sky.
- For recreation of ice nucleation, researchers also used extremely small particles of a clay mineral called kaolinite. These particles were just 2–3 microns in size, or less than one-tenth width of a human hair.
- The finding is vital for our understanding of how clouds take shape and both cool and heat the planet.
Indian Enterprise Development Services
- The Union Cabinet gave its approval to the Cadre review and formation of a new service in the name of Indian Enterprise Development Services (IEDS).
- The IEDS will be created in the Office of Development Commissioner (MSME), Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME).
- Its creation will help to strengthen the organization and to achieve the vision of Startup India, Stand-up India and Make in India.
- It will also enhance the capacity and efficiency of the organization and help in achieving growth in MSME sector through a focused and dedicated cadre of technical officers.